Monday March 4, 2013

WILMINGTON -- The Ann Coleman Gallery has just received approval for nearly all its proposed construction, except for an overhang that would have gone over a handicapped ramp in the front of the building.

"For the most part, I've crossed one more hurdle which feels like no small accomplishment," said Coleman in an e-mail to the Reformer. "The process of gaining permits to rebuild and even hang a sign in Wilmington has been a very complicated, long and painful process. Even our renovation project pre-Irene was no cakewalk when it came to permitting and the town's enforcement. I feel that if this process could be more user-friendly, it would be extremely helpful to future applicants."

The board has issued a 12-page written decision that Coleman received on Feb. 28.

Unlike cases where the board must decide that five criteria for elements such as waivers or variances have been met by applicants, the Coleman Gallery case had a variety of elements that the board had to consider.

There had been six scheduled hearings with four nights of testimony.

The DRB had been waiting for word from the state, in regards to some of the conditions for permitting the building's construction.

Before construction takes place, the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce is going to look into a gas tank that could possibly be located underneath where the structure will stand at 23 Main St.

In its written decision, the DRB approved a waiver to construct a 2-foot wide addition and a variance to construct a second story.

The Flood Hazard Review and Historic Design Review had also been approved by the board.

Permission was granted to construct a ramp with turn platforms and steps as well as extend the rear roof overhang up to 4 feet wide.

However, the board did not approve the application for a variance for the ramp overhang and the votes for approvals were not unanimous.

"The second story part, that was approved," said Development Review Board Chairwoman Nicki Steel. "I dissented on that vote. I did not think it met the criteria."

One of the concepts that had been explained during the hearings had been plans for the building to be a structure that will have the ability to float if another storm were to occur and cause flooding.

The board did not have to approve the floating structure. The application met all the flood review standards.

The new building will be raised above the base flood elevation, so the board did not have to approve the floating structure.

The floating structure cannot twist or turn during potential floods. The structure will have to remain anchored.

"It seems strange that a 1,500-square-foot building design to replace what was washed away should require more paperwork than the Haystack Ski Area Base Lodge and expansion project," said Coleman. "I'm sad that the aesthetics of the building will be compromised by the DRB not allowing our canopy off the front of the building for the sake of the board's interpretations of the town's five guideline criteria. I am thankful that they have allowed us a second floor which is definitely going to be required in order to have a successful business enterprise in downtown Wilmington in the future."

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.